Several African diplomats have complained to the Foreign Ministry that they cannot walk about freely for fear of racially motivated attacks.
Because of racist remarks by Israeli politicians, “we are afraid to walk down the street,” ambassadors from a number of African countries told Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon at a recent meeting, the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Sunday.
Henry Hanson-Hall, the ambassador from Ghana, told officials that his wife was harassed and laughed at when she went shopping. What can legal foreign workers say or do “if that’s what happens to the ambassador’s wife?” he asked. “When I jog, I’m afraid I’ll either be arrested or hooligans will attack me.”
Other diplomats, including the ambassadors of Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria, said that racism in Israel affected the image of the Jewish state in their home countries.
Israel must deal with illegal immigration in a dignified and humane way, they told Ayalon and his staff. The diplomats criticized the public deportations of those sent home — an act that cast them as “dangerous criminals.”
Ayalon thanked the ambassadors for their input. “We have a problem with illegal immigrants whom we are determined to send away,” he said. “We will do so with respect and cooperation” with their countries of origin, Ayalon added.
A number of violent incidents against African migrants took place in recent months, including the torching of a Jerusalem apartment with the residents inside. In May, Likud MK Miri Regev called the migrants a “cancer” at a Tel Aviv rally, stirring a public uproar and debate over the state’s policy regarding the foreigners.